Every week, Executive Food Editor Keith Dresser pairs each main dish with a side to give you a complete, satisfying dinner without the guesswork. Look for the game plan section to learn tips on how to streamline your kitchen work so dinner comes together quicker.
Dinner 1: One-Hour Pizza and Greek Cherry Tomato Salad
Game Plan: For this menu, you'll want to start by preheating the oven and pizza stone. After that, mix the dough. While the dough rests for 10 minutes, prep and salt the tomatoes. While the tomatoes sit with the salt, knead the dough and roll it out. Use the 30-minute rising time to prepare the salad ingredients. While the second pizza bakes, mix the salad.
For our One-Hour Pizza recipe, we employ a handful of tricks to get a crust that is crisp, tender, and light without the need for a prolonged proofing period. First, we use a high percentage of yeast and warm water to make sure the dough rises in 30 minutes. We also use a combination of semolina and all-purpose flours to create a less elastic dough that we roll between two sheets of lightly oiled parchment paper immediately after mixing so that it can relax while it proofs. For a Greek Cherry Tomato Salad that isn’t soggy, we start by quartering and salting cherry tomatoes to get rid of excess moisture. But instead of throwing that flavorful liquid away, we reduce it down and use it as a concentrated base for the dressing.
Baking Stones & Baking SteelsWe tested five models of baking stones (also called pizza stones) and baking steels, preparing pizza, bread, and roast turkey and evaluating their performance and ease of use.
Dinner 2: Pan-Seared Swordfish and Sautéed Swiss Chard
Game Plan: These are two simple and quick-cooking recipes, so prep all of your ingredients before you start cooking. Start with the Swiss chard, undercooking it slightly. Next, wipe out the skillet and cook the swordfish. As the fish rests, wipe out the skillet and reheat the Swiss chard, adding the lemon juice and seasoning with salt and pepper just before serving.
Mildly flavored swordfish steaks have a dense, meaty texture when cooked quickly over high heat. We cook our Pan-Seared Swordfish in a hot skillet, flipping them frequently so that they cook from both the bottom up and the top down and acquire a golden-brown crust. To keep each bite juicy, we make sure to remove the steaks from the heat when they reach 130 degrees and let carryover cooking bring them up to the desired serving temperature of 140 degrees. The key to mastering Sautéed Swiss Chard is to get the stems to finish cooking at the same time as the leaves. Sautéing the stems first over relatively high heat provides a desirable tender-crisp texture and lightly caramelized flavor that acts as a foil to the tender leaves, which we cook very briefly in order to maintain their earthy flavor.
12-Inch Nonstick SkilletsWe demanded our contenders clear a slew of sticky hurdles.
Dinner 3: Chicken Picatta with Citrus Salad
Game Plan: Start by prepping and salting the chicken cutlets. Next, prep and salt the citrus pieces. While these two ingredients sit, prep the remaining ingredients for the chicken and salad. Before returning the chicken cutlets to the sauce (step 5), drain the citrus, make the dressing, and plate the salad. Finally, finish cooking the chicken.
For Chicken Picatta with tender chicken and a rich, flavorful lemon sauce, we start by salting the cutlets briefly to boost their ability to retain moisture and then lightly coated them in flour, which helped with browning. We sear the cutlets quickly on both sides and set them aside while making the sauce, which includes both lemon juice and lemon slices for complexity and textural appeal. The cutlets are returned to the pan to cook through and wash any excess starch into the sauce, eliminating a gummy coating. A hearty amount of briny capers and a few tablespoons of butter finish the dish. We salt grapefruit and oranges for our Citrus Salad to counter their bitter notes and remove excess juice, some of which we use in the dressing for the salad greens. Salted nuts add richness that contrast nicely with the fruit and assertive arugula and golden raisins add texture and sweetness.